Ballistic Protective Blankets
Ed. I would hang BPBs or "Kevlar blankets" on the sides of each 5-ton truck to provide some protection, especially for towed artillery units. Grunts could take them off if they need them for defensive positions, and the trucks would grab new ones when they go to the rear. In urban combat where speed is less important, armored vehicles could wrap themselves in armored blankets for additional protection. In areas where mines are a problem, trucks, HMMWVs and APCs could use them to line their floors. I would also have heavy "clothes racks" on which soldiers could hang the blankets for vertical protection, which is needed for towed artillery and tents in forward areas.
Since the Army spends millions of dollars on wood each year so realistic defensive positions can be built, BPBs would pay for themselves in a few years. Finally, as the Army seeks to lighten its logistical tail, BPBs are much, much smaller and lighter than wood, not to mention that they are fireproof, waterproof, and reusable for decades.
Rigid Overhead Cover is Essential
I feel that your position on the use of Ballistic Protective Blankets (BPB) is not completely thought through. For one, the use of the BPB as top cover only (I am making the assumption that it is used as exclusive top cover as you propose to eliminate the other materials such as sandbags and plywood) would not be effective versus large concussive blasts from large bore weapons that rely on large explosive payloads to work. Being a non-rigid and light (in weight) barrier it would be easily moved away by the force of said blast, it cannot take a direct hit from (and I am guessing here) a medium sized explosive round ( for arguments sake lets use a 60mm mortar round) where as the previous position constructed emplacement (using sandbags and plywood) would probably survive such attacks (at least be much more likely to, there is always room for extreme examples to the contrary).
With this being said, I am not saying the idea of reducing the visibility of the fighting position has no merit. I feel that a 1/2" piece of steel (20.4 pounds per square foot at 1/2", I think) would better serve as part of the barrier. The weight would actually work for you in keeping the position being removed by near misses from larger explosions and would be more likely to survive larger caliber explosive hits. There would be an additional advantage in the fact that lighter vehicles and possibly even heavy armored vehicles could physically run over the position and still not collapse it. With this being said I fully concede that this piece of steel is not man-portable, but could still be transported on the 5-ton trucks, Humvees, and APCs.
Don't ignore anti-tank mines
I must strongly disagree with your recommendation that ballistic blankets could be used for mine protection. I have worked on vehicular mine protection since the early 1990s, deploying to Somalia to install mine protection kits on US Hummers and 5-ton trucks. We have done extensive testing, there is no technical doubt that ballistic blankets provide no significant personnel protection against the actual mine blast threat. In fact, very few anti-vehicle blast mines have less than 12 pounds of TNT. Indeed, the Russian-made TM-62 has about 16.5 pounds and is one of the most common anti-vehicle mines in the world.
Any military vehicle or retrofit kit designed only to protect against anti-personnel mines is ignoring the proven threat. In practice, the use of ballistic blankets may actually be detrimental because they give our soldiers a false sense of security. Given that mines in Vietnam accounted for 80% of US tank losses, 79% of APC losses, and 46% of truck losses, the US would be wise to consider the actual nature of this threat, especially since mines are today becoming one of the asymmetric "weapons of choice" in many places such as the Middle East and Chechnya. It must be noted that the South Africans made tremendous strides in the protection of their soldiers from mine strikes by specifically designing mine protection into their vehicles. This reduced personnel casualties on vehicles that detonated mines from about 43% to 4% while virtually eliminating KIAs. If we are serious about countering this threat, this is a proven approach.
A mine expert recently told me that shortly after the signing of the Dayton Accord in 1995, mine and direct fire protection was sought for soft-skinned (tactical) vehicles operating in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. A number of armor kits were produced and installed to address this need, but insufficient funding was made available to equip all vehicles. The Ballistic Protective Blanket (BPB) was conceived as an economical means of providing some minimal level of protection to vehicles not equipped with armor kits. The BPB protects the vehicle floor against small fragments generated by grenades or unexploded submunitions, and in this role is superior to sandbags in area of coverage and on a per weight basis.
The danger associated with using these
blankets is the belief that the blankets will provide protection against anti-vehicular
landmines. This false belief causes soldiers to be less cautious because
they believe that they are protected, and leaders not to demand equipment for
their troops because they think the current equipment is adequate. In fact
the BPB's are less effective than sandbags at mitigating the effects of these
anti-vehicular landmines. The ballistic nylon "blankets" contain large
2.5mm thick steel plates which are not firmly attached to the floor and can
become dangerous secondary missiles during a mine blast. Overall, where anti-vehicular
landmines are a threat, these blankets are a poor, and probably hazardous
substitute for tactical vehicle armor kits.
LTC Engineer Corps Virginia Army National Guard